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Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

Consular Role in the Event of the Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

Consular Officers of the U.S. Embassy stand ready to assist citizens detained in Venezuela. You may reach a Consular Officer by calling the Embassy at (0212) 907-8365. After business hours, call (0212) 907-8400.

  • U.S. citizens living or traveling in Venezuela are subject to Venezuelan laws and regulations. U.S. citizens should view any offer of free travel to Venezuela with extreme skepticism, including courier services. U.S. citizens should never transport anything back to the U.S. which is not their own.
  • Anyone arrested on drug charges, regardless of nationality, suffers protracted pre-trial detention in poor prison conditions. Sentencing alone can take up to two years. Offers by drug traffickers to get "burriers" out of jail often prove to be false. When in Venezuela, you are NO LONGER subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. law. The penalties for possession, trafficking, or use of narcotics are severe.
  • The American Embassy can provide the following assistance:
    • Visit detainees in jail.
    • Provide detainees with a list of lawyers. (While we make every effort to list only attorneys with strong credentials and good business reputations, the U.S. Government cannot assume responsibility for the ability or integrity of the professionals.)
    • Consular Officers CANNOT act as attorneys or legal representatives nor can they affect the release of arrested American citizens.
    • At the request of the citizen detained (with a signed Privacy Act Waiver), contact family members and friends and relay requests for money or other aid.
    • Ensure that the prisoner is treated humanely.
    • Provide medical and dietary assistance (on a loan basis) when such services cannot be provided by host government.

Please see the State Department publications "Assistance to U.S. Citizens Arrested Abroad", "Drugs Abroad" and "Prisoner Transfer Treaties".